The Fierce Feminist Heartbeat of “The Revolutionists”
Dive into a whirlwind of history, humor and heart at CU Boulder’s Department of Theatre and Dance as Director and Associate Professor of Theatre Tamara Meneghini brings the fiery world of the French Revolution to life. Telling the story of four resilient women in one explosive era, “The Revolutionists” will ignite the stage from Oct. 6 through 15 at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Loft Theatre.
At the heart of “The Revolutionists” are four women—Olympe de Gouges, Charlotte Corday, Marie Antoinette and Marianne Angelle—each a beacon of resilience amidst chaos. “The characters and the time period in which these women live drew me in,” Meneghini shares, “There were only a small number of women sent to the guillotine during this time period and three of them appear in this play.” The four characters’ shared purpose? A safer world for those they love, built through connections and community. This portrayal becomes all the more poignant as Meneghini reminds us that “revolutions are never child’s play, particularly to women who are mothers.”
Set against the tumultuous backdrop of revolutionary Paris, the narrative’s themes resonate with the challenges of our modern world. Meneghini sees parallels with contemporary issues like “distrust for government, rich vs. poor, racism, sexism, extremism and violence.” So, too, has playwright Lauren Gunderson emphasized these parallels in her past interviews. “The play really aims for a timelessness,” Gunderson told Playwrights Foundation in 2015, full of “striking similarities to our time in America: ridiculous war, drowning national debt, vast divide between rich and poor, institutional racism, and the quest for women’s equality.”
But don’t let the gravitas overshadow another key aspect: “The Revolutionists” is a comedy. The stories of Olympe, Charlotte, Marie and Marianne, while poignant, are also infused with humor and heart. This dynamic blend will keep audiences riveted, especially given Meneghini’s dual cast approach with “eight amazing actors playing the roles on alternating nights.”
The Loft Theatre’s immersive lighting and stage design allow for an audience on three sides, making them an integral part of the unfolding revolution. Meneghini hopes this configuration prompts introspection among the audience: “Did they get caught up in the passion of the mob? Would they have tried to stop the violence?”
The production is a proud testament to female prowess, both on stage and behind the scenes. Apart from sound (a collaboration with the adept Adam Stone), every aspect of the production has been crafted by female-identifying students and faculty at CU Boulder. “Set, costumes, lights, stage management, direction, assistant direction and dramaturgy—all done by CU Boulder women. That’s very exciting,” declares Meneghini.
With its compelling narrative, strong female leads and immersive audience experience, “The Revolutionists” at CU Boulder offers a theatrical journey that is at once historic and timeless. A revolution of society and of heart awaits those who attend.
The CU Boulder Department of Theatre & Dance presents “The Revolutionists” in the Loft Theatre from Oct. 6 to 15, 2023.